Fourteen female suicide bombers descended on Borno State on Sunday, killing 25 people and injuring at least, 85, the Nigerian Army has said.
Yushau Abubakar, a Major-General, said during a press briefing in Maiduguri, Monday, that the suicide bombers blew themselves into bits as they attempted to invade the city.
“The 14 female suicide bombers, who were between the ages of 12 and 18, attempted to entered Maiduguri with the intent to cause mayhem, confusion, and panic,” said Mr. Abubakar, the Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, who represented the GOC, 7 Division, Major-General Lamidi Adeosun.
The attack, one among a recent wave of violent assaults by the Boko Haram terrorists, came days after the Nigerian government claimed it had met its December deadline of defeating the insurgents.
Mr. Abubakar said the girls, who planned to carry out coordinated suicide missions through Asmari, Damboa checkpoint, Ali Dawari, Molai Kura, Baderi, and Jumari villages, were intercepted by soldiers on patrol.
Three of the terrorists, according to the army officer, detonated their Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) while seven others were shot dead by soldiers.
One of the bombers was arrested while three others escaped.
“I believe this development has averted what would have been a major disaster if they had gained entrance into Maiduguri,” Mr. Abubakar said.
“One of the girls went into a nearby house and requested for water to perform ablution but instead prepared herself and came to a nearby mosque, killing herself and one other person while 13 others sustained injuries.”
Mr. Abubakar said four soldiers were killed as the insurgents recently ambushed Nigerian troops in Mairaria village on the Maiduguri and Firgi road.
Fourteen insurgents, he said, also died in the ensuing gun battle.
The army general noted that the terrorists had now resorted to attacking “soft targets” and laying ambush for soldiers due to their weakened strength.
Also speaking to journalists on Monday, in Maiduguri, the Borno State Police Command confirmed the death of scores of people after a suspected bomb blast near a mosque in Silimanti on the outskirt of Maiduguri.
Victor Isuku, the Police Public Relations Officer, gave the confirmation while speaking with journalists in Maiduguri.
“I can confirm to you that the incident happened in the early hours of Monday,” Mr. Isuku said.
“But I cannot give you the casualty figures as aid workers are still counting.”
However, some residents claimed that at least 20 persons were killed.
Bukar Idris a resident of the area said, “I was lucky to have escaped the attack because I left the place few minutes to fetch something in my house for a friend at the gathering.
“But I lost two childhood friends Mallam Modu Bushara and Mallam Shehu Sawab,” Mr. Idris said, adding that he counted at least 20 dead bodies before the arrival of aids workers at the scene.